Police Cryptologist Job and Salary Information

Explore the Work and Pay of Law Enforcement Cryptologists

Police cryptology
Police cryptologists break codes to track criminals and fight terrorism. artpartner-images/Getty Images

It's no secret that criminals want to keep secrets. Especially in a time when communication is so easy - and easily monitored - some of those secrets are getting harder to keep. In order to keep the cops off their trails, criminals, convicts and terrorists alike turn to talking in codes. To fight crime and keep criminals on their toes, law enforcement agencies are turning to police cryptologists to crack those codes.

What Do Police Cryptologists Do?

To get a better idea of what a police cryptologist's job is like, you should first have an idea of what cryptology, cryptography, and cryptanalysis are.Those three words have at their root the Greek word crypt, which means "hidden secret."

With that in mind, cryptography, cryptology, and cryptanalysis are all words used to describe the study of hidden things. More specifically, they've come to describe the study and creation of secret codes and how to break them.

Whether to send secret messages to and from prison or jail, plan major crimes or hits, or to plan and execute a terrorist attack, serious criminals use complex codes to communicate. They often hide their plans right out in the open.

Police and law enforcement cryptologists have the tough job of finding, identifying and breaking those codes in the hopes of solving and preventing crime. To do that, they make use of complex mathematics and computer science, writing and cracking algorithms to find patterns and look for hidden meanings.

The United States military and federal law enforcement and investigative agencies are among the largest employers of cryptologists. In law enforcement circles, cryptologists assist with investigations of identify theft, computer hacking and digital forensics, counter terrorism, and information security.

 Their day-to-day job usually includes gathering and analyzing data to create and break various codes.

Police cryptologists work for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, CIA, and the National Security Agency. They might also work for private companies or larger state and local law enforcement agencies.

What Education and Skills Do Police Cryptologists Need?

To get yourself ready for a job as a police cryptologist, you need to be well educated. Analytical and critical thinking skills are vital. Your best choices for college degrees for cryptology include math, computer science, language, and computer programming.

In order to move up and advance your career, you'll probably need to earn at least a master's degree and possibly even a PhD. Prior work experience can help, too, so look for internship opportunities with agencies such as the NSA. Joining the military can also provide invaluable experience and training.

What Is the Salary for a Law Enforcement Cryptologist?

According to information from various federal agencies like the FBI and NSA, law enforcement cryptologists can earn between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for mathematicians (which include cryptologists) is more than $101,000 annually.

In short, cryptologists can earn a very, very good living.

    Is a Career as a Police Cryptologist Right for You?

    Law enforcement cryptology is a highly specialized field that requires a unique and special set of skills and intelligence. It's also an amazing and interesting career option, especially for those who enjoy puzzles, solving problems and mathematics. If this describes you, then working as a police cryptologist may be the perfect criminology career for you.